Works Blog

Just stuff and bits that inspire us and we'd like to share

Art From Words

This magical work of art celebrating the power of the written word, however, the words are more than words they are the illustrations across seas, mountains, forests and pathways throughout and have started to depict scenes in a beautiful combination of narrative and typographic art.

This reminds me of the conversation we have had around the office, about how the use of a font in a brand in a certain way it can become part of the identity.
Of course, by that, I don’t mean the selected or bespoke fonts we offer whilst building a brand, which has linked characteristics of the brand's identity. So stand-alone, when delivering slogans or headlines can represent the brand in isolation as this is also very important, but our conversations have revolved around treating it in different ways. It’s when it changes from words to graphic assets, now you could argue that delivering a slogan as a stand-alone wordmark has to hold more identity some times, but it’s still about letterforms and delivering the words over style and not the other way round.
However if you start to deliver a set of words or headlines, stories that command a piece of artwork large or repeat small, overlaying or chopping up…they transform from message to graphical mack-up. They like ‘A child of Books’ can then deliver a message, a sentiment, depict and lead an artwork into being type led art and design. 



Historically there are loads of examples of this. In the 60’s music industry Wes Wilson’s birds The Byrds, Muddy Waters Band Posters and Mike Edwards Bowie Handwritten Songs are great examples of expressive typography. Or to more modern times of David Carsons barley legible, ripped up overlaying style, to the scribing of Stefan Sagmeister combining narrative and story with the art. Paula Scher widely imitated expressive typographic covers and Alan Kitching play with wood-print are also notable styles where type become part of the design, not just headlines or linear message. Endless references spring to mind including art forms themselves like graffiti where letterforms create an important style distinction between different artists and groups Cope2 became world-known for his recognisable bubbly font tags. This is true identity through type and art combined.

I could delve much deeper into where type came from and how in some countries it is still art and symbology like in East Asia and ultimately from letterforms derived from cave paintings, hieroglyphics, etc. but that’s a different blog. Is this symbology what we have lost over the centuries with typography striving for functional use on its multitude of applications. Don’t get me wrong when that’s the job of the font to communicate a paragraph of text or clear headlines, the invention of humanist fonts have etched their place in society and the evolution of publications and communications, the pure craft of a typographer is something to behold, but I’m talking about breaking that functionality to express with type like an artist uses different brushes or knives and how a set of marks can mean so much before you even see the word or words.

Let's face it type is art anyway the form of the letters in fonts can express so much about the mood and intent of any design it's applied to, its like salt it is to pepper a complimenting ingredient, however when it becomes ‘the’ ingredient it takes on a different life form. I’m not 100% where that starts and ends, I'm not sure we have ever come to an agreement. All I know is it's we want to do it more, we should have fun with it and play with the constraints as much as possible... when it’s right to be a word and when can it be much more?

Getting Shirty

Football shirts today are highly regulated, FIFA World Cup team Manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas have to adhere to a 92-page style guide when designing uniforms. But this wasn’t exactly the case.
On the eve of their 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England, Argentina were scrambling to select a jersey for the match. Argentina had beaten Uruguay in the round of 16 wearing cotton jerseys, but coach Carlos Bilardo thought they might affect his players’ performance if worn on a scorching afternoon in Mexico City. It was too late to have new jerseys made, so he sent a member of his coaching staff, Ruben Moschella, to search the city for a lighter-weight shirt.
They were unable to choose between two options Maradona appeared and pointed at one. “That’s a nice jersey,” he said. “We’ll beat England in that.”
Moschella went back to the shop-bought enough for all the players. Club badges were sewn on and the team ironed numbers onto the backs of their shirts.
Just hours later, Maradona stunned England with the “Hand of God” goal and his second, still considered by some to be the greatest goal ever scored in a World Cup.
After the game, England’s Steve Hodge swapped shirts with Argentina’s number 10 and brought the shirt back to England with him, where it has been displayed in England’s National Football Museum since 2002.
A lovely story of an iconic shirt hastily sourced from a backstreet shop in Mexico City.

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